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3/26/2017 10:58:54 PM

REEF MOB, Ch. 68: Volition's Mistress

If you missed the last chapter of REEF MOB, you can find it [url=]here[/url], or if you need to find a previous chapter, you can find them all in the [url=]Table of Contents[/url]. Please give a bump or leave a comment if you enjoy this and any other chapter! ***  I shrug off the darkness of the dreamless sleep and fight my way back into the light. Rubbing my eyes, I instinctively swing my legs over the side of my bed –– and then reality hits me. [i]I have no leg. He chopped it off.[/i] The words no longer sting as hard, but they do leave a bitter taste in my mouth. Reaching over the side of the bed, I seize the metal leg that Rafe gave me so I could compete in his Clash Club matches and carefully fix it to my stump. [i]If not for Ser–…Mother, this stupid thing would’ve been held against me forever[/i], I think bitterly, hating Rafe again. [i]Just like – [/i] The minor compulsion hits, and I grab the vaporizer Mother gave me, taking a hit. The impulse wanes immediately, and I exhale my hatred of Rafe, reminding myself that for all he tried to screw me over, he didn’t seem to know who he was messing with. [i]There are definite perks that come with being the Baroness’s daughter.[/i] I stand, my metal leg clinking against the deck as I make my way out of my new room and through the hallways of Hedon House. The Sarifs and Maivas I meet as I pass tilt their chin up to me in acknowledgement, all of them caught between holding to their belief that the Mob bows to no one while still trying to convey the proper respect afforded to their Baroness’s child. [i]Things are changing already[/i], I think as I flash each a quick wave. [i]They all already seem much more….deferential? Ingratiating?[/i] For just a moment, I wonder what word Kenedi would use. After Mother brought me home, her pet Exo by far was the most curious of me, almost like he knew me once, long ago, and was determined to make a good impression. [i]But wouldn’t that also mean he was being deferential and ingratiating?[/i] I find myself thinking, and with a swooping feeling in my stomach I realize I’m instinctively waiting for an answer in my own head. [i]Stop it[/i], I command myself. [i]Cut that shit out, you’ve thought that over and over and no one’s ever answered you, so just bury it –[/i] But the phrase draws only a further itch in the back of my mind, like out of all the things I’ve forgotten, this one is the most important – I reach the doors to Mother’s chamber, though, and push it all away – what’s important now is family. I’ve been given a chance I never thought was possible, and I need to make the most of it. I push the doors open and step inside, Mother immediately spotting me and calling me to her. “Mariel, love, we were just discussing you.” I take a seat on a cushion nearby, acknowledging her Maivas around us. “What about?” “We’ve received a message from one of our liaisons with the Fallen Houses on Earth,” she explains, taking a drag off her own hookah. I instinctively mimic her, taking a drag off my own smaller vaporizer. “The Talons request a favor.” “Which ones are they again?” “‘The Family’,” she continues. “Not actually that dissimilar from us, apart from their unequivocally more…patriarchal structure.” “Probably why they’re coming to us for a favor,” I smirk, my heart beating a little faster as I see mother join me. “More because of the unique position we hold here. Though the mission itself is quite daunting.” “What is it?” Mother gazes deep into my eyes, like she’s looking for something – finally, she smiles and says: “Are you aware that the beast who killed Taniks and your friend is being held in Vesta?” [i]Red tendrils spread across the man’s body as he screamed, the monster watching him silently – I grabbed the shock blade and held it between the monster and myself, asking “Who are you?”[/i] I push the thought away as I grit my teeth. “No, I wasn’t,” I answer Mother. “The creature was detained by Variks on order from the Queen,” Mother continues. “She holds it now in her prison so that Osiris’ Disciples may use it for…practice. Apparently, her penchant for using others for her own benefit wasn’t tempered by the Wolves’ Rebellion.” “But why would the Talons want this monster?” “So that they may serve justice,” Mother replies. “It seems whatever gives this creature its power was stolen from the Talons. This creature murdered their Kell’s only child and brought his ill-gotten gains back here. The Talons are offering us an ultimatum – help them seek justice, or they’ll join the Wolves and attack the Reef.” “I’ll do it,” I tell Mother without any hesitation. “Whatever you need, I’ll do it.” Mother smiles warmly at me. “That’s my girl. But you’ll need something to get you there first.” “What?” But Mother only smiles and snaps her fingers – two of her Maivas rise instantly and approach, indicating for me to follow them. I nod in acknowledgement and follow, casting a final look back to Mother – she gives me a small wink before returning to her counselors about the next order of business. The Maivas guide me through Hedon House, down the levels and toward the hangar bay. “Either of you know what she meant?” I finally ask. “Lady Cay preferred you be surprised,” one of them answers with a smile. “She didn’t want to ruin it for you.” Curiosity growing, I follow them down the final flights of stairs to the hangar bay – and immediately see what was being kept as a surprise. A custom build off the Ceres Galliot stock kit, modified to look like black jagged claws are reaching menacingly off the front of the ship. Ketch armor studded across the sleek frame, reinforced with Cabal parts and pulsing with Hive growth. [i]This is mine[/i], I know instinctively. “The Volition,” I whisper in awe. “You remember,” the Maivas say, sounding surprised. “No matter what, I could never forget her,” I continue in the same reverential tone, stepping forward and reaching out to touch the hull. Running my hands along the eclectic surface, I feel the hum of power crackling in my fingertips, and a giant grin plasters itself instinctively across my face. “Lady Mariel,” the Maivas call, and I turn to see them indicating the hatch. “Your crew will be joining you shortly. It might be wise to reacquaint yourself with the controls.” I cock an eyebrow at them, smirking. “Like I said, I’ll never forget this ship. But what crew?” “You didn’t think your mother would allow you to do this alone, did you?” they ask incredulously. [i]No, I suppose she wouldn’t,[/i] I think as a part of me boils with the assumption that I [i]couldn’t[/i] handle this alone. [i]But things change when you’re the Baroness’s daughter.[/i] *** Not even an hour later I’m at the controls of the Volition, piloting us into warp space using the colors green and orange, the smell of hazelnuts guiding my hands to the appropriate buttons. Behind me, my new crew restlessly stares around the interior of the unfamiliar ship, avoiding eye contact with me and each other. I didn’t even bother to get their names. [i]Something about them just feels….unfamiliar.[/i] I shake my head lightly, knowing how strange it sounds when referring to strangers, but there’s just something…not right about them. My co-pilot, one of Mother’s Sarifs, idly checks our trajectory, her fingers quietly patting against the screen. As I watch her work, I can close my eyes and almost hear the metallic tapping that should be coming from next to me. [i]But why? Who am I expecting?[/i] “We’re approaching the planet,” she says without looking up. “We should drop out of warp a little closer to the atmosphere to avoid detection.” “Thought that was why we were aiming for the opposite side of the planet?” “Still,” she shrugs, looking up at me. Her violet eyes twinkle as she smirks, and in my head I hear: [i]Let’s just hope Lady Luck’s on our side.[/i] “So superstitious,” I mutter back. “Huh?” I catch her eyes again as they look at me in confusion. “Nothing,” I mutter. The Volition jerks as it drops out of warp, screaming toward the kaleidoscope of blue, green, white and brown – the Earth races closer as we enter the atmosphere, streaking toward the rendezvous coordinates. The smell of hazelnuts gives way to burnt tires as I prepare the landing procedures and ready the ship’s cloaking. Behind me, the crew makes their own preparations in silence, still uncomfortable with our forced companionship. [i]Whatever, not like I had a choice in brining you knock-offs either[/i], I think harshly. I wait a moment instinctively for a response inside my head, and kick myself internally for doing so. [i]Why do I keep expecting an answer?[/i] I bury the thoughts as the Volition sweeps in for a landing over the empty, windswept desert, the onboard computers beeping in confirmation as we zero in on the coordinates. “Down there!” one of the crew members yells, and I peer out the window to see a small band waiting for us, their leader towering over them. [i]Damn, he’s a big one[/i], I think in appreciation while internally scoffing in equal measure. [i]But it’s not like I haven’t dealt with those before.[/i] The ship comes to a landing as the party watches us, and I lead the crew in transmatting down – … – to stand directly before them. The giant leader pulls back his hood, revealing his ether mask strapped firmly to his face. I feel a twinge of compulsion, but calm myself with a hit from my vaporizer. Checking the rest of him, I see his eyes scrutinizing me and mine closely, one of his many arms draped casually across a colossal sword on his belt. “[i]You are Mariel?[/i]” he asks. “I am,” I respond. “You’re the one we’re supposed to meet up with?” “[i]Yes,[/i]” he croaks back. “[i]I am Vesrik, Kell of House Scar.[/i]”

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